As mentioned in the article, most of what I published yesterday was written with the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson playing on my TV. I mention this because Thompson was best described as a radical, and I’m seeing his style of politics make a comeback in the United States. In 2016, both Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were insulted as “extremists,” although I still deny that Donald Trump was nearly as radical as most people think — he was basically a hyperbolic character of all Republicans running at that time — the image of him as a radical certainly had an effect on American politics that go beyond Trump himself. I’d go so far as to say that blowing up the overton window is one of the few good things about the Trump Administration. Mind you, I wish the people let in weren’t white nationalists, isolationists, and other such groups — but the blowing up of conversation on the right has also led to a blowing up of conversation among leftists and libertarians that almost makes it worth it.
While the Democrats resisted Trump style radicalism at first, it soon found a small place. Three days after Trump was inaugurated, The Young Turks, a left-wing news agency, founded a group called Justice Democrats with the goal of running progressive candidates. Three of the four squad members are Justice Democrats, including the celebrity Alexandra Ocasio Cortez. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi battled them at first, she has since embraced them as part of the Democratic Party. Justin Amash, a previously unremarkable Tea Party Republican, left the Republican Party over his disagreement with Trump-style nationalism before becoming the first member of the Libertarian Party to enter Congress. Amash has since also become a superstar politician, with many begging him to run for President in 2024 — to give you an idea of how big of a star Amash is, the biggest backlash he received occurred when he said he was not going to run for re-election in 2020. Libertarian Republicans like Rand Paul and Thomas Massie have also gotten some celebrity status over the past couple of years, which is rather important for those who agree with more extremist ideas.
When George Floyd died on 5/25/2020, I remember thinking that this was the beginning of the end of the state as we know it. The death of Breonna Taylor a few months earlier (3/13/2020) and the resulting police coverup (accessing her of everything under the sun and making sure to do as many shady things as possible in the process) combined with the shooting of Jacob Blake a few months later (8/23/2020) brought the United States to a new level of distrust with its institutions that it had not seen in a rather long time. The idea of fully defunding the police, or at least rethinking the way policing exists in our communities, has become a serious idea in our political discourse, when such a thing would be unthinkable even a few years ago. The first wave of Black Lives Matter protesters, getting popular after Eric Garner was killed in 2014 before fizzling out in 2017 or so, considered the idea of wanting to defund the police a smear, now it’s an official part of their platform.
Just before John Lewis died, one of the last things he did was compare the death of George Floyd to the death of Emmett Till. Till was killed by a lynch mob on 8/28/1955 after it was clamed he whistled at a white woman, and even most racists felt — or at least pretended to feel — what happened to Till was barbaric. The White Citizens Council, a white nationalist group, claimed that Till’s death was actually an argument for segregation, for if the races were segregated Till would have never encountered the white girl who would later accuse him of cat calling her. In the same way, people on all sides recognized the deaths of both Breonna Taylor and to a lesser extent George Floyd were barbaric and worth responding too — although the question quickly became how extreme of a response that needed to be.
Speaking personality, I know many people in real life who identify as anarchists. I know a handful of people who watch radical YouTube channels, usually left-wing channels like Vaush. Still, these ideas might have become part of establishment liberalism, with Last Week Tonight host John Oliver saying that anything should be on the table regarding new ideas to reform our current system. Once again, I live in a rather small area in Ohio, which is far from a place where radical politics tend to spring from. Even fundamental American institutions, things like the Supreme Court and the Electoral College, are being called into question not just by small internet bloggers, but by people in Washington DC.
Policy is not even the only area where this has taken place. UFO/Alien conspiracies, once considered only something nuts looked at, have become more mainstream now than they have been at any point since maybe the 1970s. The release of the documentary The Phenomenon earlier this year, which had top politicians say there are things the public does not know about UFOs, normalized the idea in the mind of the public. Even mainstream commentators like Tucker Carlson on Tucker Carlson Tonight talked about the documentary and what it means for the public. The recent story of the Utah Monolith, the mysterious monolith which randomly appeared in Utah and disappeared a week later, further brought the idea into the mainstream.
Will Joe Biden be able to quell these fears? As it stands, I have my doubts, although I have praised Joe Biden’s “return to normalcy” campaign, I believe that the genie has come out of the bottle and it would be near impossible to put it back in. The eyes of the people have been opened, and the idea of closing them once again once they get the chance may be appealing to many, but I doubt that the people will be able to. No matter how much they want to, the things they have seen simply cannot be unseen, and even if they pretend to forget, how they view the state will have been so shifted by these events that any idea of trust will be gotten rid of.
As it stands, we are currently living in a radical time, and I am looking forward to the results. I have long wished the American public was more questioning of the government, and the world we live in in general. It looks like my wish has finally been granted, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.